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Cremer rues first-innings batting meltdown

Zimbabwe captain feels situational awareness which they lack at the moment will only come if they play more Tests

Graeme Cremer loses his stumps to Jason Holder , Zimbabwe v West Indies, 1st Test, Bulawayo, 2nd day, October 22, 2017


Graeme Cremer, the Zimbabwe captain, rued his team's batting failures after West Indies completed a 117-run win in the first Test in Bulawayo. Zimbabwe collapsed from 91 for 1 to 159 all out on the second day at Queens Sports Club, and crumbled again in similar fashion on the fourth day. Cremer suggested "we couldn't quite work out how to score against their bowlers on this wicket".
"I thought on day one we were excellent with the ball and in the field," Cremer said. "We had a really good opportunity there to go and put some runs on the board and put them under pressure, but we had too many soft dismissals on day two. For me it comes down to that first innings. Even if we had got 250, in their second innings they would have been under a bit more pressure."
Zimbabwe's lapses on the second day allowed West Indies a 60-run first innings lead, and the visitors built on that thanks to patient innings from their top five. Their batsmen were, perhaps, helped by the fact that they have seven Tests to Zimbabwe's two this year.
"It makes it easier when you are playing a lot more Test cricket, because you learn how to play different situations and you realise how much time there is in the game," Cremer said. "I thought West Indies did it really well in the second innings - they slowed the whole game down and never looked rushed. It's something we need to learn to do a bit more, in those periods that are tough just soak up the pressure. Then the opposition search for wickets and you get to score. The more we play I'm sure we'll get better at that."
Zimbabwe were eventually set the monumental task of scoring 434 or surviving six sessions to avoid defeat. "We thought we would just play normal, positive cricket, and if we batted out today we could assess where we were at and whether we needed to try and survive the day or go for it," Cremer explained. "It wasn't to be. To chase down 434 is always going to be tough, especially on a wicket that was starting to deteriorate. The West Indies were just a bit better."
One clear positive for Cremer was the return of batsman Brendan Taylor and new-ball bowler Kyle Jarvis. Though neither could affect the outcome of the game, both players put in telling performances. "They came in and it was like they never left," he said. "Guys accepted them straight back in. It was great to see Jarvy with the new ball again - I thought he was good on a tough wicket. BT obviously didn't score in the first innings but we saw in the second innings how good he is and how good he can be. It was just a pity he got out when he did."
Cremer also paid tribute to fellow legspinner Devendra Bishoo, who spearheaded West Indies' attack with nine wickets in the match, without denying that there was a bit of friendly rivalry between the two. "Bish bowled really well," Cremer said. "I thought I went okay, I lost rhythm now and again but that can happen. But there's definitely that competition between legspinners, but Bish is a good guy and we're mates. We will probably exchange tips after the series, but not now."

Liam Brickhill is a freelance journalist based in Cape Town